Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Today we have a great album to share: D&B Together, from Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. The husband-and-wife team of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett put out some great records in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They started out on Stax Records, and you can get an idea of what these two funky white folks had to sound like to record for the likes of Stax (home to Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, etc.).
Delaney Bramlett is one of the great rock bandleaders, perhaps underrated today but certainly not when he was in his prime. Bramlett not only had his fiercely soulful singin’ wife, but he recruited some of the greatest musicians to play backup on those Delaney & Bonnie albums. D&B Together, from 1972, is the duo’s sixth album and man, they don’t cut records like this any more.
First, the band: Delaney, on guitar and vocals; Bonnie, vocals; drums, Jim Gordon (Derek & the Dominos); bass, Kenny Gradney (Little Feat); keyboards, Billy Preston!; keyboards and vocals, Leon Friggin’ Russell!; more bass, Carl Radle (Derek & the Dominos); more drums, Jaimoe (Allman Brothers); more keyboards, Bobby Whitlock (Derek & the Dominos); and even more bass, James Jamerson (Motown)! Now the guitar players – Eric Clapton, Steve “The Colonel” Cropper, Dave Mason and Duane Friggin’ Allman! Nice, eh?
The album kicks off with Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know,” which was a hit for Delaney & Bonnie. Led by Bonnie’s soulful vocals (with backing vocals – oh I forgot those – by Merry Clayton, Rita Coolidge, Clydie King, Tina Turner and Eddie Kendricks, among others) the song establishes the easy rockin’ and intoxicating mash of soul, rock, blues and country that seemed to be so easy and unforced back in the early 1970s. “Wade In The River of Jordan” could have been a tambourine-shaker from any white or black country church, and Delaney’s “Well Well” is another tasty slab of rockin’ soul.
The guitar rocker “Comin’ Home,” co-written by Delaney with Eric Clapton, is the album’s highlight. Clapton’s guitar interplay with Allman on this song was also the blueprint for the Derek & the Dominos landmark (from 1970) and it’s cool to hear it goin’ full steam here. The other highlight worth mentioning is “Groupie,” a Bonnie/Leon Russell composition (which Delaney probably had a hand in too) that was later a big hit for the Carpenters. Rita Coolidge also sings a mighty nice version of this tune on Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen album (1970). “Move ‘Em Out” is a nice country rocker written by Steve Cropper, and “Country Life” is a nice showcase for Delaney’s great singing and a fitting closer to the original album.
Many of the tracks were cut originally for Atco/Atlantic and the singles from this album actually appeared on that label. But before the album’s release, Atlantic president Jerry Wexler learned Delaney and Bonnie were divorcing so he sold all of the tapes to CBS/Columbia. That label released D&B Together originally as a 12-song album, but in 2003 added six more tracks to the CD reissue. These were solo tracks cut in 1972-73 after Delaney and Bonnie broke up.
Bonnie Bramlett, of course, appeared on a number of solo albums and sang backup with many artists (including the Allman Brothers). Delaney Bramlett played with a number of great musicians up until his death in December 2008 – he was truly one of the greats. And so is D&B Together. This is one of my all-time favorites – every time I listen, it feels like … coming home.
(You can’t go wrong with any of Delaney and Bonnie’s albums, especially Motel Shot and On Tour With Eric Clapton, one of the greatest live albums ever made.)
YouTube: “Comin’ Home” for TV, with guest guitarists Eric Clapton and lonesome George Harrison